For centuries, the northern Bohemian town of Žatec has been the centre of hops growing in the country. Known as the home of hops and beer, the town is now trying to cope with a decline in its traditional industry. It recently launched a multi-million euro tourism project called Temple of Hops and Beer – but it is also slowly coming to terms with recent history that saw the town’s original German population replaced by Czechs in the aftermath of WWII.
Long standing complaints by Czech drivers that they are being harassed by German and Austrian police have hit new heights amid reports that they have taken a humiliating turn. Former prime minister Mirek Topolánek says there is a clear case that European open border rules have been broken. His successor Jan Fischer has called on the Czech interior ministry to investigate.
Two intrepid Czechs, Vašek Sůra and Pavel Blažek, are at the start of what will probably be a month long trip to travel the length of the world’s deepest lake – Siberia’s lake Baikal. They will be covering the frozen ice and snow without any other help such as dogs or supplies delivered en route. Computer programmer and marketing manager Pavel Blažek answered some questions before they set off. The first was what made the lake Baikal expedition so special.
A visit to Týn nad Vltavou offers much of what you would expect of a small South Bohemian town. The winding streets are full of locals in the morning, each one greeting the other, the buildings, mostly farmsteads, have a kind of rural hominess that whips up the nostalgia in you even if you’ve never been there before, the woods are full of aged artefacts - bridges and crosses in the middle of nowhere, say – and in the absence of any bustle you get the feeling that the church bell rings almost constantly.
Now, ever gone on holiday and been forced to leave your teddy bear at home? Well, fear not, a Czech tour operator is launching what looks like a world first for tourism – holidays for cuddly toys. Starting from 90 euros you can send your teddy bear or other furry friend on a luxury trip to Prague or other Central European cities – you’ll even receive a photo album with his holiday snaps. Earlier we spoke to the man behind the idea, Tomio Okamura.
The Soviet-era Trabant – a tiny plastic car built in former East Germany that was left “by the roadside” following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, may have been consigned to the dustbin of history, but it still has a special place in many Czechs’ hearts. Among fans is a group of travellers, including a journalist and filmmaker, who have made the tiny vehicle central to their adventures. In late 2009 they conquered Africa in a Trabant - travelling all the way from Tunisia to Cape Town.
Prague’s famous 15th century astronomical clock, known as Orloj in Czech, is one of the oldest and most elaborate clocks ever built and one of the city’s best known attractions. Few tourists leave Prague without seeing it. However the crowd that assembled to hear it chime last Sunday was in for a shock. Due to a technical error the procession of apostles that appears in the windows above the clock failed to make its usual exit – instead it was spinning like a crazy merry-go-round.